Week 8

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“The black actors I interviewed coped with the inundation of ghetto roles in Hollywood by distancing their lived experience from the fictional ghetto roles in Hollywood. They discussed their middle-class upbringing, labeled themselves as “non-urban” or suburban”, and contrasted themselves with actors or actual gang members, whom they thought were better suited to portray ghetto roles. These methods of distancing helped black actors to maintain a more authentic identity separate from the black stereotypes proliferating in Hollywood and society.” (Nancy Yuen, pg. 239)

In this week’s reading, Yuen shares interviews from these actors in which they are literally doing everything they can to say “THIS IS NOT ME, this character is not me” because in a sense, these roles they’re being given are similar to a cage, stuck playing roles they can’t be freed from. That’s why I chose this picture, they have to portray this image, dressed in attire that associates one with a ghetto lifestyle but in reality, this isn’t what these people are like. These actors are trying to make it a point for people to look beyond the job in this case, look at these people in real life, to see they aren’t like that at all. It’s a bit similar to situations when “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” but it’s more like “don’t judge an actor by it’s role” or “don’t judge a person by the media.” It shouldn’t be the norm for so many non blacks to raise an eyebrow whenever they see an educated or well-spoken black person on TV but “ghetto” roles support the idea that the media represents. Film/ Tv roles are portray images of blacks as undereducated and that they all dress like the half naked men in the picture above because it supposedly embodies the “South Central ghetto.” It’s narrow minded to believe that all blacks are from South Central and that all blacks dress in that way. Furthermore in the reading, it discusses “financial constraints often necessitated taking roles,” so it left most actors with little choice but to play the only roles that were given. Because of this they were expected to play a stereotype-ridden, lower-class “ghetto” character and the fact that they had to find ways to “cope” with this, it’s tragic.

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